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The Gadarene Geek

Kathy Shaidle
From:   Lobotomy Magnificat. Oberon Press, 1997.


(Luke 8: 26-39)

I'm rollercoaster's nightshift shadow:
     (bone-ride: rickety,
     wooden-skinned—

     a centipede creeps
     down my claw-tracked arm—)

     I eat it up. (Ounce
               of applause.)

          So goes my diet,
and my career: I crouch here,
bite the heads off snakes—

ALL LIVE! the barker's crossed his heart
to every season's ever-shrinking crowds.

My red clown nose keeps plopping off.
My wig's from the Fat Lady's trash.
I do it for the booze, and it's a job,
although I sometimes wonder

what it is God wants with me.
The only thing alive in me's
the tail end of a rat.

They call me pig and bottom
rung
. I'm banned in many states.
But secretly I think I am
the greatest show on earth.
That fool beside me swallows swords—
they're easy: steel, and still.
And there's no Tattoo'd Lady
who can rival my insides,
     my guts: an after-Eden legion,
     Altimira—creatures cursed.

Adam named the beasts.
I eat them raw.
In one town I'm THE WILD MAN!
Another, just THE GEEK!
My given name was Will.
I gave it back.



Kathy Shaidle's works copyright © to the author.


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